The Sunday Salon-What’s Your Story

The Sunday  

good morning!  did you hear that howling winter wind sweeping around the house today?  quite a shock to my system, i must say, after spending the past week in southern florida where daily temperatures were at least 80 degrees.  but no matter~my house is warm and the puppies are happily curled up beside me.   come in out of the cold and warm your hands around a steaming mug of fresh coffee.  join the sunday salon.

i have a little confession to make…my reading this week has been very minimal, both in quantity and quality.  somehow, sitting around the patio table with two friends, sharing wine and watching sunbeams sparkle on the water is not quite as conducive to reading as you would expect.  oh, we all took lots of books with us, expecting to make large dents in our personal bookstacks.  and we would start off happily reading, when suddenly one or the other of us might say, “did i ever tell you the story about…” well, of course one story led to another, and the books lay forlornly on the table, their pages curling in the moist tropical air.

and isn’t story telling the key to a good book anyway?  certainly my favorite books have always been those with a story which catches me up, a riveting tale whose ending i simply can’t wait to discover.  when i was small i loved the Little House Series, completely enthralled with the ingalls family and their tales of life on the prairie.  as a teenager, i gravitated toward classic myseries by agatha christie or dorothy sayers, masters of good storytelling.  throughout my adult life, my bookish tastes have run to literary novels by the likes of ann tyler, gail godwin, joyce carol oates, alice munroe, jodi picoult – women who are able to spin the familiar stories of life into something entirely fascinating and new.  i’m also drawn to memoir and personal essays – anne fadiman, caroline knapp, anna quindlen – women who relate their unique stories and perceptions to life in general.

so perhaps it isn’t surprising that i would find myself more interested in the stories of my two friends than in the pages of the mystery novel i took along with me.  the three of us have been friends for about 10 years, sharing an interest in music and books and teaching – yet they are each older than i, and have many stories to tell about what life was like for women coming of age in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  how fascinating for me to hear these first hand accounts of becoming a woman during a time when gender roles were so much more prescribed.  while i was happily playing with my school friends (and reading little house on the prairie), these two women were navigating the brave new world of working while raising a family. 

i do think we all have valuable, fascinating stories to share.  perhaps that’s one of the reasons i so love visiting all your blogs, reading your stories about life, and books, and your experience of the world.  i also think that this practice of writing our stories – in blog posts, in essays, in journals -is not only a marvelous way to connect the human race, but also a way to discover more about ourselves, to discern and determine what our life experiences mean. 

“Writing is about discovering who you really are and where you’re headed,”writes Barbara Abercombie, in her wonderful book  Courage and Craft.  “It’s about turning the messy, crazy, wonderful, and sad stuff in your life into something that has order and clarity and meaning-a piece of writing that other people can connect to and be moved by.”

it’s so true – listening to my friends tell their stories of relationships, family, achievements and failures,  i was often moved to laughter, and sometimes to tears.  when we bear witness to our lives, whether in fiction, or poetry, essay or memoir, we offer others the gift of connection, of understanding, of insight.  and we often learn more about ourselves in the process.

now tell me…what’s your story?


9 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon-What’s Your Story

  1. Hi Becca,

    So glad to had a great vacation. Sounds like even though you didn’t read much it was fruitful in that stories were told and listened to. And it is as important to tell as to listen. How else would we learn about the world around us??

  2. Sorry about the weather. As you’ve discovered, it’s been a glorious day here in the UK. It is so true about taking books away with you, somehow they never get read, or at least not as many as you take, if you’re anything like me. While other people might worry about whether they’ve packed clothes for whatever might turn up, I worry about whether I’ve packed enough books to cater for whatever reading mood I might be in. Double the number of days you’re going to be away is pretty much my rule of thumb, which may explain why I’ve never been tempted by a round the world cruise – the boat would sink under the weight!

  3. Yes, so true about listening to stories of friends – that’s a great source of inspiration and endlessly fascinating, I find. Ann’s comment made me laugh. That’s pretty much my rule of thumb too. I have almost a neurotic fear of being ‘caught’ somewhere without a suitable book!

  4. Sounds like a wonderful holiday. I think it’s very true what you said stories, when they are told well, are endlessly fascinating to me. Even if the subject matter is an everyday event..

  5. What a wonderful post, and a wonderful time with friends I’d guess. I met many of my best friends in graduate school, and they always had great stories. Sadly we’ve all gone our separate ways, so the time for listening to great stories is minimal. However, I am blessed to speak with them on the phone often, see them on holidays when we’re all back in Texas, and we chat through e-mail. Not the same as the “good ole days,” but every day we do have is an adventure.

  6. Spending time with old friends trumps reading any day in my book. Book reading can be done practically anytime, anywhere, but it is much harder to make time for your friends. I was lucky this weekend to not only have friends over but to catch a little bit of downtime to read and blog. An excellent combination!

    I think those connections you make with other people are an essential and vital part of being human. Its easy with how society is set up to live a disconnected life today, but even then there is online connections that can be made.

  7. Time spent with friends is truly something to cherish. Nowadays everyone seems so busy that sometimes meetings get pushed to another week, a phone call to be placed later, etc. and in the end we lose those powerful connections. That’s great that you were able to spend a week with your friends listening to one another’s stories and creating new ones for years to come! Don’t worry those stacks of books are patiently waiting for you 🙂

  8. I’d say enjoy the stories while you can. Books will hang around for ever, friends might not! Nothing better than a good bottle of wine and a chat, when not at work. I’m quite envious, even though the weather was glorious here yesterday and yes, we did manage to have lunch outside.

  9. Must check in on Courage and Craft! Welcome back to Michigan! Hope you were able to tape Ms. Jane A. while you were gone! I have missed your daily musings, but it sounds like you had quite a wonderful time. This is a lovely post, and a very meaningful one. Yes, as much as I enjoy reading (and art, and the cat, and the garden, and the cooking…), nothing beats the friendships.

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